June 06, 2006

Wyden blocks major fisheries legislation

Wants Senate to help salmon fishermen survive

Washington, DC Concerned that Oregon salmon fishermen and their communities are unnecessarily suffering under a steeply curtailed salmon fishery, U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today blocked (held) the major piece of fisheries management legislation moving through the Congress until the Senate considers steps to help fishermen in Oregon survive this disastrous fishing season.Weve known for months that this was going to be a bad season for our salmon fishermen, but the Secretary of Commerce has done nothing, despite numerous pleas for help from the affected communities, Wyden said. We need to act now to help address the immediate financial needs of our fishermen and the coastal fishing communities that depend on salmon for their livelihoods. Before this bill goes forward, we need to know that Oregons fishing communities are not being forgotten.Wyden held two town hall meetings on the Oregon coast last Saturday where he heard from fishermen concerned about the salmon season; he promised to seek emergency assistance when he returned to Washington, D.C. this week.Wyden has previously cosponsored Senate bills with U.S. Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) to provide emergency disaster assistance for Oregon and California fishermen impacted by restrictions placed on salmon fishing. Under their legislation, the funding would be provided to the Pacific States Marine Fisheries Commission to be distributed to coastal communities that have been declared to be in a state of emergency as a result of the limited salmon fishing season. The assistance would be available tax-free to fishermen, fish processors and businesses (such as cold storage facilities, ice houses, and docks) supporting the fishing industry. Cities or town that experiences a loss in fish landing fees or revenue related to the fishing industry would also be eligible.As a matter of policy, Wyden publicly announces any holds or formal objection he lodges with regard to legislation or nominees. The full text of Wydens statement today follows:Statement for the RecordJune 6, 2006M. President, up and down the coast of Oregon, fishermen, their families and communities are suffering from the actions of the Secretary of Commerce in curtailing the Klamath salmon fishery without offering the assistance they need to cope with this disaster. Months ago the Pacific Fishery Management Council recommended to the Secretary of Commerce that this salmon fishery be drastically curtailed. The Secretary responded to the Councils recommendation by slashing the quotas and limiting the number of days and areas that could be fished. But, despite numerous pleas for help from the affected communities, the Secretary has done nothing for months and months to help out the fishers whose livelihood depends on the Klamath salmon stocks.The Secretarys continued inaction is not acceptable, and so I am objecting to any Unanimous Consent request for the Senate to proceed to or adopt S. 2012, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Reauthorization Act of 2005 until the Senate can consider legislative steps that will help fishermen in Oregon and California survive this disastrous fishing season. I make this objection consistent with my policy of always announcing holds I may place on legislation or nominations.The State of Oregon is seeking a Presidential emergency declaration for those affected by this federal action, and I intend to work closely with the State and my colleagues here in the U.S. Senate to make sure Oregons fishing communities are not forgotten and that they receive the aid they will require to make it through this year.I ask unanimous consent that my statement be printed in the record.